Obama following in Bush's footsteps again

One consistent trait of politicians is the inability to learn from other people's mistakes.
Yesterday President Obama decided to not learn from Bush's mistakes.

The Obama Administration has today unveiled another new “anti-terror task force” whose primary purpose is to go online and “push back against online propaganda” from ISIS and other anti-US groups....The State Department in particular presented it was planning “social media campaigns” to offer a “positive alternative” to the ISIS narrative.

This isn't the first propaganda effort against ISIS. The Obama Administration created the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) in 2011.

What this has meant in practice is small “digital teams” in a handful of languages posting Tweets about how much they don’t like al-Qaeda. Officials are getting more ambitious with the project now, and setting it on ISIS.

You might think that a head-chopping, women-enslaving group would be less than impressed by negative tweets. You might also think that tweeting about how unpleasant a group that goes out of its way to be unpleasant is a redundant effort.
But we are talking about politicians, and PR is in their blood. If people don't like the policies it must be because they didn't hear the right jingle.
Consider the George W. Bush track record.

October 24, 2001

The Bush administration, fearing that it might lose the public relations war in Muslim and Arab nations to Osama bin Laden, is turning to Madison Avenue for help.
The State Department is talking to the Advertising Council, a New York-based nonprofit group that develops advertising strategies for national causes, about crafting a "public diplomacy" campaign on the military action in Afghanistan and the war on terrorism...
"I think the fact is, there is a battle for hearts and minds," said Philip T. Reeker, a State Department spokesman. "There's a lot of disinformation. . . . The difficulties we face in getting our message out are quite clear."

So here's the setup. We start dropping bombs on a helpless country, and for some reason people in the region say they no longer like us. Go figure.
The problem was be a public relations one, right?

October 1, 2003

The United States must drastically increase and overhaul its public relations efforts to salvage its plummeting image among Muslims and Arabs abroad, a panel chosen by the Bush administration has found.
"Hostility toward America has reached shocking levels," the panel stated in its report, which will be released Wednesday....
The report added that "spin" and manipulative public relations "are not the answer," but that neither is avoiding the debate....
The committee found that the State Department spent about $600 million last year on its programs to advocate American policies, and $540 million more for the Voice of America and other broadcast networks....
The Bush administration, for example, started a program called "shared values" last year, a series of television commercials showing that Muslims in the United States lead lives of dignity and equal rights. The advertisements were suspended after several Arab countries refused to show them.
Many in the administration were privately critical of the commercials, agreeing with Arab and Muslim spokesmen who said they were irrelevant to Muslim concerns about American policies toward Iraq and Israel.

Imagine that. We spend $1 dollars on radio and television commercials telling the Muslim world how great we are, while we destroy Afghanistan and Iraq and murder tens of thousands of people, and for some strange reason people in the region still don't like us. Go figure!

So in 2004 the Bush Administration commissions a task force to figure out the mystery of why Muslims no longer like us. Here's what they found.

What's that supposed to mean? They "hate our policies"? Is that even English?
Fortunately, President Obama took over in 2009. Maybe he can translate this into something we can understand.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written a searing critique of government efforts at “strategic communication” with the Muslim world, saying that no amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring or insulting.
The critique by the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, comes as the United States is widely believed to be losing ground in the war of ideas against extremist Islamist ideology. The issue is particularly relevant as the Obama administration orders fresh efforts to counter militant propaganda, part of its broader strategy to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ah hah! Strategic communication. Why didn't Bush think of that?

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Pluto's Republic's picture

So, this is the upshot of Friday's meeting with the high muckity-mucks of Silicon Valley?

The White House announced that a new social media ‘propaganda’ task force will offer a 'positive alternative' to ISIS online narrative.

I really don't think the tech industry wants anything to do with the WOT. They're getting killed internationally, post-Snowden, for betraying the Internet and collaborating with NSA spys. "Made in USA" is out when it comes to any form of information technology in the global marketplace.

The take away for the White House, then, was "new and improved tweets" directed at muslims, globally, that will deter them from sympathizing with ISIS or other muslim groups who fight the foreigners who are destroying their holylands? And, the new "strategy" is to paint the US invaders in a positive light?

The US has seen ISIS propaganda as a huge problem for years, with the group’s ability to keep its message online successfully despite intense efforts to shut them down. US alternative narratives, by contrast, have felt extremely bureaucratic and aren’t getting much currency among readers, mostly just getting retweeted by various government officials.

(Hasn't this ship already sailed, after 15 years of murder and mayhem?)

The Bush administration's failed PR campaign USplained to muslims that being bombed and invaded by Americans was a "good" thing because it would end terrorism. Selling it to Americans was a lot easier. The Bush administration launched a shady PR campaign involving phony experts for TV news shows and embedded shills, like Judith Miller, in print.

When President Obama assumed office in 2009, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, brought him up-to-date with a "searing critique" about the costly efforts to sell the war? This critique, I missed. Thanks for the interesting link, gj.

Mullen reported that seven years of US propaganda was not only ineffective, but the US was actually losing ground against extremist Islamist ideology. "No amount of public relations will establish credibility if American behavior overseas is perceived as arrogant, uncaring, or insulting."

The Muslim community “is a subtle world we don’t fully — and don’t always attempt to — understand,” he wrote. “Only through a shared appreciation of the people’s culture, needs and hopes for the future can we hope ourselves to supplant the extremist narrative.”

“To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate.”

The perception of America as an arrogant oppressor has not changed noticeably, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Pakistan, where American-launched missiles aimed at the Taliban and Al Qaeda have killed civilians, officials report that America was widely despised because it was obsessed with finding and killing Osama bin Laden to avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

But, this time, it's different.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

lotlizard's picture

Hasbara Fellowships
Hasbara / Public Diplomacy (Wikipedia)
The Israel Project

Presumably, effort on that scale would just need to be directed to winning over the world's Muslims instead of lobbying Western audiences and elites.

On the other hand, the idea seems to be at cross purposes with the ongoing successful effort by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Israel to cultivate extremism — Salafism and Wahhabism — as a way to harm Iran, marginalize Shiites, and destroy secular Arab states.

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I'm going to steal that without any shame.

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mimi's picture

The White House announced that a new social media ‘propaganda’ task force will offer a 'positive alternative' to ISIS online narrative.

That's it. I think the US can't do anything else but spewing propaganda, may be they are good at it, but it makes people sick, the world hateful towards the US, and the Americans insanely confused about themselves. So, the posititve altermantive to that positive alternative propaganda project, which we will be showered with, is then to shut down social media consumption to a minimum. Can we have an alternative media to social media, please?

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start more wars without congressional approval

what can be said?

stupid for sure

generating $ for MIC

keeping citizens in state of fear to continue the coup d'etat


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guess Obama and the MIC want to start the big one

dumbfounded on this ploy over the North Korean bomb test

Escalating Cold War, US Flies B-52 Bomber Over South Korea

met this guy at Netroots Nation conference in Detroit

Joe Cirincione, president of the global securities foundation Ploughshares Fund, called the U.S. show of force "counterproductive" and "childish" on Twitter. "This is exactly the kind of nuke macho action we should NOT be taking," Cirincione warned.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

…known as "wagging the wee-wee."

They cranked up the ol' B-52s back in October to buzz the Spratly Islands, where China is building out three of the Islands. A U.S. guided-missile destroyer also wagged the wee-wee as it sailed within the 12-mile limit.

Annoyed at these anctics, China called it a "coercive action that seeks to militarize the South China Sea region" and an "abuse" of freedom of navigation under international law, it said.

An official editorial in China news pointed out, "the United States needed to learn the lessons of the chaos in places like Iraq and Afghanistan," which it said proved how a U.S. show of force never brought stability.

"Cast iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved," it said.

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Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

They are: Obama Slams Door in Putin's Face, The End of MAD, A Russian Warning, and Five Reasons Washington Has Already Decided To Go To War With Russia. They suggest that Obama has bought into the idea being pushed in neocon circles that a preemptive nuclear first strike on Russia could be survived without too much damage to the people who matter. I doubt that many of us would survive. And Russia seems to be taking "our" moves seriously. Our "leaders" are truly insane. And Hillary even more than Obama. Dig those bomb shelters!

The website is thesaker.is .

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How Russia is Preparing for WW III, and EU Suicide by Reality Denial. Agh.

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